Saturday, June 2, 2012

Celebrity and societal post-pregnancy weight loss pressures

Heads-up: This is a non-Austin blog post. Instead, after having stumbled upon this article criticizing the media for attacking celebrities and their post-pregnancy bodies, I feel compelled to share my experience.

Brief summary: 
"The increasingly common expectation for new moms to prioritize slipping back into skinny jeans over child-rearing is ridiculous, and the window of time in which they have to do it is getting smaller and smaller."

The article talks about how amazing it was for Beyonce to drop 60 lbs in five months but that it's unfortunate  how her newly firm abs are bigger news than her baby is. It also mentions that Jessica Simpson is jumping on the Weight Watchers bandwagon (for a reported $3 million!!). The author acknowledges that while Simpson has been scrutinized for her figure for years, the endorsement is such a smart move since she can get paid for the very thing that gets her so much publicity.

Having recently gone through these motions myself (minus the celebrity scrutiny part of course) I have a few comments:

1. I do not pity celebrities for anything (positive or negative) that comes with being famous. They know what they got themselves into--and they make a crap ton of money which should make up for dealing with the negativity. If they don't want the publicity, don' t be famous. Having said that, I still think there are better ways to publicize celebrity. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all.0

2. Lets be honest--most of these celebrities have live-in nannies and other assistants to raise those kids. Even if a woman's body naturally bounced back after pregnancy (and she didn't feel the need to spend more time working out over bonding with the child), I doubt the celebrity is the one who would actually be raising the child. 

3. I haven't talked about this publicly (just with family), but given the negative nature of the article and society's stereotypical view on women, I feel compelled to share this part of my story. 

I was very nervous about what pregnancy would do to my body. The last time I LOST weight was 14 years ago when I had major back surgery (you would have lost your appetite too if you were stuck with hospital  food for two weeks). I didn't even lose weight two years ago while training for a half marathon. And who has time to exercise while taking care of a newborn... unless you're a rich celebrity who can afford to pay someone while you work out?! 

Yes, I was scared about the weight. I was terrified about the delivery. But none of these factors were stronger than the desire to start a family.

I only gained 35 pounds during pregnancy. I say "only" because I know people that gained 60. And it's completely out of your control. I do feel lucky that mine was on the lower end. But the bottom line is that either way your body changes. Clothes fit differently. And I've never felt less feminine in my entire life than I did after pregnancy. 

I lived in hoodies and warm up pants with drawstring waistbands for at least six weeks. Getting "dressed up" meant I put on the maternity jeans and a loose/comfortable top. When I finally made myself start wearing pre-pregnancy pants again, I cried every time I got dressed. Like I said--the clothes just fit differently. And of course the waistband was snug. I felt disgusting. 

 So here's the point:

It's been nine months since I had Austin and I'm 20 lbs UNDER pre-pregnancy weight. Damn proud of that. Since I borrowed my mother-in-law's old Weight Watchers stuff in January I've learned about portion control and the benefits of more fruits and veggies. I have not done much working out at all except for occasional walks with Austin in the stroller. No joke. 

I'll be damned if I'm going out to buy a whole new wardrobe after I just spent 9 months in a completely different wardrobe (which by the way is now packed away in my basement until we decide to take the "baby #2 plunge." I feel amazing. And best of all I feel like I am in a better place to teach my child about how to take care of his body.

The author's closing words: "I’d rather believe that all the agony and energy spent suffering over post-baby weight gain could be channeled into something positive. Like caring for that new miracle. And feeling pretty kickass for having had created it."

Having a baby whips you into a routine like nothing else. For me, it was the perfect time to adjust bad habits and learn better ones. And there is no better motivation than a mini YOU, with his whole life ahead of him, to force you to take care of yourself so you can ultimately take care of him. 

I do feel kickass for having created my little miracle in Austin, and you better believe I'm going to do it again one day. It's not "agony" if you do it for the right reasons. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The crawlin' is stallin' ...

I've been putting off this blog post until we had a bonafide crawler among us, but I don't want to wait any longer. There's so much other great news to share!

Baby Austin is SO close to crawling. He's sitting without support and he can go from laying down to sitting all by himself. Imagine the look on our faces when we went to get him after a nap and he was SITTING in his crib. Sheer terror. That's what our faces projected! It's the sitting to crawling that sometimes trips him up (he can't quite get over one of his bent legs), but when he gets to all fours you can see the determination in his eyes. Sometimes I'll be watching him with crazy anticipation--thinking "is this going to be it?" in my head while I anxiously wait for his legs or arms to nudge forward. He sees my expression and thinks something is wrong! So I clap it off and he's back to his smiling, determined self. If he sees you clap, he knows all is well.

So far he can prop himself up on all fours, key into a toy across the floor, add a slight wiggle and usually one limb will move before he gently melts into the floor. Occasionally he might face plant, but most times his legs just give out. Before long, he's up and at it again and the cycle continues.

Because he can't crawl to the nearest toy, Austin loves to reach for the next best thing. This includes my hair and earrings (OUCH!). Even when he's on the changing table, he'll swing his legs up, reach for his feet and stick them in his mouth. Yes, you read that correctly. Socks on, socks off... it doesn't matter. Sometimes he'll make a "yuck" face after he tastes said feet (usually the "yuck" face accompanies the bare feet). So he's pretty flexible.

The general mobility that he's developed--in what seems like an overnight sensation--is exciting and scary at the same time. A few months back, we could leave him in the middle of the living room on a blanket to run and make a quick bottle, but now, we come back with the bottle and he's log rolled all the way across the room and nearly into the wall. Sometimes he will log roll in a circle--this of course is achieved by a mix of the straight log roll and his hoisting himself up into a crawling position. When he comes out of the crawling position he lands at an angle, thus creating more of a circle. 

The downfall of Austin's new-found mobility? Changing his diaper. This somewhat simple task that once took a mere two minutes has become a 15-minute wrestling match, and I usually lose. He flips over almost as soon as his head hits the pad (or he tries eating his feet) so my job in even taking off the old diaper is quite the challenge. I will not even try to explain what it's like to get the new one on. And if we have to change clothes in the same sitting? Next to impossible. If Jim is home, I usually call him for backup. He'll entertain the kiddo while I take care of business. HA!

He is definitely gaining strength standing too. This is no doubt a success of the Baby Einstein "saucer" and "jump-a-roo" apparatus that occupy most of our living room :) We are still stabilizing him under his arms, but his legs are tough. I believe we've previously referred to them as "linebacker thighs!" Standing on the changing table is actually one of the tricks I try to use to calm him down. He seems to like staring at the giraffe painting on the wall and even tries to grab it. 

On the eating front, we've moved into stage two solid foods and two different grains! Oatmeal and fruit in the morning with multi-grain and vegetables in the evening. He's still taking bottles of course, but my goodness how the solid foods help bring down the grocery bill from 100% formula. We've also introduced Gerber puffs and it didn't take long before he figured out how to feed them to himself. It's funny to watch Austin react to adults eating too--he could have just finished a feeding, but watching others eat with their own utensils and cups is like torture! My personal favorite is when he tries to steel my coffee in the morning and I say, "Sorry babe, you have to wait 15 more years until you can drink this!"

Before we go, there are a few exciting milestones to mention.

1. Last month on Austin's 8-month milestone, I realized it had been exactly 34 weeks and 6 days since he was born. That's exactly how long he waited before showing up on August 29th. And by "waited" I do imply sarcasm :) So naturally, we had to create a bit of photo fun.


The image on the left was taken 8/24/11 (five days before Austin's birthday). It's the last--well, the biggest--pregnancy photo I have. The image on the right was taken 4/29/12. I didn't think of this until now, but he's not even the same weight as what I gained during pregnancy. And to be honest, my back hurts worse now than it did then! Wow. But I'm not complaining. I would be complaining, however, if my cheeks and feet were still that swollen. I think it's funny how he automatically grabbed his feet when I held him for the picture on the right--it's similar to how he was camped out in the belly. So crazy to see the before and after like this!

2. Tuesday is the 9-month milestone! We have another doctor's visit and probably more shots that afternoon. Thanks to Uncle Benn who tried to take some formal 9-month photos of Austin this weekend. Unfortunately nap time became more of a priority than smiling. We'll have to try again ;)

That's all for now. We WILL have a crawler by the next blog post!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Let the Babyproofing Begin!

The Draher household has been invaded. Just a few short weeks ago, it was Mom, Dad and an immoble, bottle-clutching baby. Now, like an overnight phenomena with no warning whatsoever, we've got a vegetable-chomping, arm- and leg-flexing monster on our hands!

Believe me when I say "monster" I simply mean I'm terrified of this new unexpected territory he's entering. I've been telling Jim that we really need to get into shape so we can chase this kid around the house--and it needs to happen sooner than later.

Each morning when Austin wakes up, he's in a new spot in the crib. The paths that used to take him all night to navigate across the mattress now take mere minutes. He figured out how to use his adorable chunky legs to propel him forward and backward. Couple that motion with arms that have figured out little baby push-ups, and you get the recipe for disaster: CRAWLING!

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to watch Austin's progression, but of course it's sad to think of how fast everything happens. Now when he's laying in my lap, he won't sit still--he wants so badly to sit up every chance he gets. When he's on the changing table, he wastes little time before trying to roll over. Needless to say, putting on a new diaper or fresh clothes has become quite the chore!

The days of just holding him in our arms and staring into his eyes with pride are long gone. Our focus on the sensitive moments has moved into a stage of safety and caution. This is when it really gets interesting.

Meanwhile, on the personality side of things, the kid just can't stop smiling! He smiles in the morning when we first wake up, he smiles when we come home from work, and he even smiles when we drop him off for babysitting at cousin Kristin's house. The truth is he's a big flirt. Always smiling at the ladies. There have been a few times recently when he started crying around people he hadn't seen in a while (partly because Jim or I walked away to grab something) but all in all, he's such a pleasant baby. And I can't say enough about the laughing. You can make a face, a silly noise, do a dance or start tickling him and he'll give you a little giggle. Then there's this song Jim sings to him--I don't know if it's the rhythm, or the bouncy motion he adds, but Austin just thinks it's hilarious.

Thanks to the gorgeous weather recently, we've made it a habit to venture out in the stroller. One day, our neighbors across the street were outside, so we completed Austin's stolling wardrobe with the Indians ball cap and baby sunglasses they bought for him. I'm not saying he enjoyed the accessories, but how could I resist?! Take a peek:


Every time I see him in the car seat, all I can think is how we had to stuff blankets around him for padding when we first brought him home from the hospital. And now he's on his way to outgrowing it! Speaking of growing, I definitely notice that his hair has gotten longer. Still has his random bald spot in the back (where his head hits the mattress), but it's getting longer on the top. We'll have a solid mohawk in no time :)

To showcase all this change and growth, I filled up a 12-month frame (a gift from AU friend Christine Humphrey) with head shots taken close to the 29th of each month. Of course we know he's changed, but when you see the images right next to each other, it's quite shocking. His face has thinned out, but his legs must have absorbed all the weight. They are pretty pudgy baby legs--just like they should be! In fact, people say, "You've got nice legs" to Austin all the time. Cracks me up. Needless to say, I can't wait to fill up the rest of the frame.

The last thing I want to share is that since our last post, I spent my first night away from the baby. And when I say night, I mean OVERNIGHT night. My husband has been very sweet in offering me "break nights" along the way (although that usually means he takes the kiddo over to his Mom's house and she takes care of the kiddo while he plays poker or watches a movie with his Dad, LOL) where I can have a few--quiet--hours to myself for shopping, scrapbooking or just vegging out in front of the TV. But this time, I couldn't resist attending a friend's bachelorette party in Columbus. I felt selfish at times, but I do admit I had a great time! The only downfall, although expected, was that I stayed up waaaaay past my bed time. The latest in a LONG time! But at home, Jim stuck to the script. The baby went to sleep at his normal time, and maybe got up once during the night. He was even napping when I returned home the next day.

Everything went fine, but it was still a big deal to me. In many ways, I felt like I alienated my little bear cub! But the lesson to be learned is that life goes on, and parents (both new and veteran) need to take a break every once in a while. And all the Grandparents say they want to keep the babe overnight, so who knows--maybe we'll do this again soon!

Till next time, bye from Austintown :)


Monday, February 27, 2012

Baby's First Ear Infection :(

It's been quite a month in the Draher household. What felt like an eternity during the toughest days now seems to have flown up in the whirlwind that has been February.

We started the month with Austin's first Superbowl party! It's weird to think that at this party last year we announced to Jim's family that we were expecting, and that now we have our own little munchkin dressed up in sporty clothes and sitting on our lap while we laugh at the commercials. The following week, however, was one of the toughest weeks since Austin was born.

One night after taking his last bottle and having been asleep for a while, Austin woke up vomiting. It was all over the crib. And his sleeper. Everywhere. It's an awful feeling. But as soon as we got him cleaned up and dry again, he went back to his smiling self. It was quite inspiring. Until it happened again first thing the next morning, and the rest of that day. Luckily my mom was babysitting that day. She was a trooper. I picked up some Pedialyte at the store over lunch, and Jim took Austin to the doctor's later in the afternoon. Vomiting slowed down over the next few days, but diarrhea was pretty constant. Austin also picked up a heavy cough and sniffles Sunday. Did I mention he wouldn't sleep in his crib all week? Jim and I literally rotated shifts with him on the couch--we surrounded ourselves with pillows and held him all night long. Finally decided to go back to the doctor Wednesday because he was not progressing, and that's of course when we found out about DOUBLE ear infections. Ouch. That would explain why he wasn't sleeping in his crib - likely had major ear pain every time he laid down.

It only took three doses of the antibiotic to see a definite change in Austin's demeanor. That poor lethargic baby had bounced back to his smiling, giggling self. I'm not going to lie, it was a very tough week and a half on all of us. Aside from not being able to do much for a crying kiddo who can't communicate, Jim and I both caught the cough, sniffles and congestion. Finally, the fogginess that was in my ears feels like it's clearing up today.

Now that the illnesses have ended, we can look forward to Austin's half birthday on Wednesday! He's a half leap baby! I don't even know what that means, but it sounds pretty comical so we'll go with it. Seriously though, six months already?! I knew it would fly by, but now that it's actually here, I really don't know where the time went. I should add, rather excitedly, that we do still have six month sized clothes in Austin's dresser. Based on the fact that he started wearing that size by 2-3 months old, we were afraid he'd be in 24 month sized clothes by now! So that is truly exciting. He definitely lost weight when he was sick (confirmed at the doctor's), so we'll have to see where he is again tomorrow at his six-month appointment. Great timing with this appointment--it's the first of his last four appointments that was scheduled more than a month in advance--because we need to get his ears re-checked now that the antibiotic is gone. Unfortunately, he's getting shots again--certainly the worst part of going to the doctor. The best part? Watching his excitement when he hears and feels the crinkly paper on the table. Honest to goodness. It's so funny. Much like a fascination with bubble wrap. The sound just cracks him up.

Speaking of Austin cracking up, I have to share one last story before I run. Saturday when my Mom came over to babysit, she said she liked his sleeper. This particular sleeper, I explained, was a gift from a college friend, Jenny (hi Jenny!), when I met her and another friend (Bethel) for dinner in late August. So I'm saying this as I'm picking Austin up out of the swing. I oddly remember that we met on a Wednesday, quickly did the math and said out loud in front of him, "Oh yeah, that was the 24th and [insert eye roll here] SOMEONE was born five days later." Without missing a beat, he cocked his head back and just started laughing at me! Mom and I look at each other and couldn't do anything but laugh ourselves. That little booger is running the show.

On that note, I need to go paint my nails while I have some time to myself (and time for them to dry!). Wish us luck tomorrow at the six month appointment :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hang on, here come the emotions

SO much has evolved since my last post in November. The most obvious of all being Austin's age and weight! The babe is now five months old, at at his last doctor's appointment on 12/27, he was pushing 17 pounds! That's a mere couple of ounces less than his 11-month old cousin Justin! Sometimes that thought makes me feel like a bad mom--like I have overfed my baby or something, but we were just following doctor's orders with the high-calorie premie formula. And come on, you know a chubby baby is the cutest thing EVER. It's just so weird to think that my little early bird is now in the 80th percentile on a full-term baby chart. And he's in the 60th for length and head circumference.  Unbelievable. Oh, and he's wearing 9-month sized clothes. That last one really makes me sad!

The good news is that we are finally rid of that high-calorie formula :) and have moved onto the regular infant variety. The week we changed was quite a trip. Austin has never been more fussy or spit up more than he did that week. Of course, us nervous parents went through everything in the book--at different points we thought he had a fever, was just gassy, or possibly teething. Eventually we realized that it was just taking him some time to get used to the new stuff. We're glad that is over. This past weekend we introduced rice cereal. It's still mostly liquidy, and he takes it through a bottle. Will be interesting to see how the spoon-fed version goes. That's when the real fun begins, right?!

My favorite changes by far are those in Austin's expressions, awareness and responses. In the early weeks, we could tell he knew Mom or Dad was nearby because his eyes followed our voices. That itself was so touching. But now, he smiles nearly every time his eyes meet mine! And he talks to me! Well, baby-talk "talks" to me. Usually when he's on the changing table, he'll make faces and noises in response to getting his diaper changed or getting redressed. So I make faces and noises back at him, and then we go back and forth with our own little language. It's quite entertaining. I will admit that I usually have tears in my eyes by the end of each "conversation." I suppose I still can't believe I have a child. Or that the child communicates in his own way! He just melts my heart. I pray that I am not that Mom that tears up at every last achievement (especially those that come at an age when he doesn't want to be embarrassed by me). Last weekend Austin rolled over for the first time, and I screamed instead of crying! Now he is wiggling all over the place. Even rolling in his crib. It's crazy. Here's a video Jim took (this was like roll #3 or 4).

As far as the smiling goes--he's so happy first thing in the morning. I don't know who he got that from, because it wasn't me or Jim! Now we're working on getting him to laugh more regularly, too. He had a few minor giggles around the holidays, then finally on New Year's Day, he laughed for our six-year-old cousin Lauren for about 15 seconds straight. And since then, Jim and I have been trying to impersonate her so Austin would laugh for us again. If you need a good laugh, come watch that. We're borderline ridiculous, but determined to hear it some more. This past week, when I said "I love you." with complete sincerity, he smiled and laughed at me like I was telling jokes. That cracked me up too. There are also really tender moments--like at night when I'm cradling him to get him to fall asleep--where he'll stare into my eyes and coo ever so quietly. That's by far the best part of this gig.

Speaking of gigs, I started my new job the week after Thanksgiving! Man am I lucky. Right now I work Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8-5; that gives me Tuesdays and Thursdays at home with Austin, and keeps me active in the land of marketing and advertising. I can't say enough great things about this company. Aside from the fact that my commute is now shorter than it was just to get to the highway to drive to Ashland, I have a wonderful office, challenging but highly interesting clients, and co-workers who just "get it." I've already gotten to work on three website development projects, and there are four or five more in the pipeline. Web work was one of the big things I wanted to learn more about, and here I am just two months in and already learning (and enjoying) so much.

The days I'm at work, we are so lucky to have family members watching the baby. Kristin, Jim's cousin, and my Mom have been such huge helps (and mentors!). It's neat to see their take on his routine and habits after they've spent a full day with him, and their insight has been helpful.

And now, purposely buried many paragraphs into this entry is the one admission most parents might hate me for: Austin has been sleeping through the night (anywhere from 8 to even 12 hours straight!) for just over two months now. This is not a joke. In fact, I have gotten more sleep with a four-month-old baby across the hall than I EVER have before. Seriously. In high school and college, and even post-marriage/pre-baby, I was always the last to go to bed for some reason. I'm a "sleep when you're dead" kind of thinker, I guess. But this kid is turning me into a more relaxed, and yes even punctual (in most cases!), human being.

The truth is that I have never been happier in my life than I am right now. I used to get so worked up just thinking about how I could make it all work--baby, career, romance, me time ... stressing about how my work stress and ridiculous commute might affect Austin's development ... worrying about which doctor would be on call the day Austin decided to make his grand entrance ... dwelling on the fact that my baby was stuck in the NICU. But now I think back in shock and awe at how everything has fallen into place.

Naturally, nothing happened the way I expected--it turned out better. I had no morning sickness whatsoever. I didn't experience caffeine withdraw one bit (if you know me well, you should be surprised by this too!). Of course I didn't expect Austin to show up so early. And although I have wondered if the constant commute influenced his early arrival, I truly believe everything happened for a reason. Then, when it came to finding a job more suited to my new family, you can only imagine the relief I felt to find something so close to home AND so fulfilling.

Yes--I now think of even the NICU experience as some sort of hidden blessing that helped us ready ourselves for this life-changing experience. Not that I didn't have faith in us becoming new parents, I'm just very thankful for that time with those nurses, getting to watch and learn while Austin too "learned" how to eat.

All things considered, no one should be this lucky.

I know many of my close friends and family members have heard me say these things on more than one occasion, but I seriously think about them all the time. Still shaking my head in disbelief. So much in disbelief in fact, that I started this post almost two weeks ago, sitting in my living room, past my bedtime, just sinking these thoughts into the keyboard when I was overcome with emotions. I still wanted to talk about how much fun it was to have Austin around for the holidays, but I couldn't get over the unbelievable, simple joy described above. I went to bed with the intention of finishing the post the next day, but every time I sat down to type, I still found tears in my eyes.

A couple of people have already said, "enjoy it now, because your second kid will be awful." Meaning, he/she will fuss constantly, not sleep through the night until age 2, etc., etc. And to them I say, the odds would agree with you. But, the experiences with Austin have taught me what I think I'd need to get through the "2nd kid shenanigans." Besides, we have plenty of time before we even begin to think about another baby. Plenty. Did you hear me Grandmas? I said Plenty.

Ok, I think it's time to lighten this up. Let's talk Christmas! I have never been so excited about the holidays as I was this year. Usually Jim is singing carols by November 1. The combo of that and black Friday hype just annoys the crap out of me. So much so that he usually calls me Scrooge when we get in the car and I don't let him listen to certain stations. Whatever. This year was different. Of course I was excited to give and receive gifts with all of our families, but just carting the kiddo around to family gatherings with us, and opening presents for him was really cool. Some toys, like the really neat toy drum and other instruments my Aunt Patsy and Uncle Jim bought him, won't be able to be played with for some time, but it was a great feeling to get excited for him. And, to know that by Christmas next year, he'll likely be running around and ripping open his own presents!


We also squeezed in an impromptu 3-month/holiday photo shoot with Uncle Benn and Aunt Emily. Benn was snapping the shots behind a really nice still camera (usually he's the videographer), and Emily was our art director! It was great fun, and wouldn't have been complete without a few wardrobe changes. Austin was pretty worn out with all the excitement, so we didn't get any overly-excited facial expressions, but I know that won't be the case come 6-month time. Thank you to the Aunt and Uncle team for great fun, and many great shots--including the one below and the two "Santa's helper" shots above.

It's hard to believe that tomorrow Austin will be 5 months old already! Other big milestones this week include 1/31 - the day we found out we were pregnant last year, and 2/1, my Godson/Nephew Justin's first birthday!! This is the Justin that Austin has already outgrown. HAHA. He's taller than Austin but still lighter.

In other baby news, I want to say a big "Congrats!" to one of my oldest friends, Erin and her husband Kevin who welcomed their son, Max, on 12/26. I couldn't believe how light Max was when I first held him! And he was still heavier than Austin was at birth. He is beyond precious, and I couldn't be happier for the three of them.

And finally, I want to share what should be the end of our nursery decorating story. One hefty post-holiday nursery-cleaning spree gave us the time we needed to tidy up Austin's room and decorate the rest of the walls. Thanks again to my Dad for making the adorable wooden AJD letters and giraffe, and to cousins Bob & Regan for the festive animal/safari rug. We love this room, and Austin even loves staring at everything to take in the colors and see what's all there. I know we will enjoy it for years to come.

That's about all for now. I'm hoping that Austin isn't crawling by the time I write again. YIKES!